Connecticut towns scramble as DMV lists thousands of vehicles in wrong municipalities

Connecticut towns scramble as DMV lists thousands of vehicles in wrong municipalities

New Haven Register, February 22, 2016

By Henry Chisholm

A “glitch” in the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles computer system has listed thousands of cars in the wrong municipality, but spokesman William Seymour said the situation should be resolved before tax bills come out.

“The assessors are working with their vendors and ours to ensure that the right vehicles are placed into the correct municipality they belong in,” Seymour said. The system glitch could potentially cost towns and cities money if they are expecting an amount in car taxes that they do not receive.

John Rainaldi, president of the Connecticut Association of Assessing Officers and Manchester’s director of tax assessment and collection, said towns and cities should be conservative when drafting budgets because of the error. “I talked to our own budget people, and my suggestion was we use last year’s numbers as a base,” Rainaldi said. 

In Guilford, the DMV’s computer gaffe should not cause major issues, according to First Selectman Joe Mazza. He said the issues mainly affected commercial vehicles and buses. “If you had a UPS or FedEx distribution facility that would have these semi trucks housed, that’s where the situation would be of concern to the town, or like a large bus depot, but that’s not the case in Guilford,” Mazza said.

He said the town sent out its grand list, an aggregate valuation of taxable property, and whatever problems there are should even out. He said, according to the town’s assessor, they could still have some cars that belong to other towns and other towns could have cars that belong to Guilford.

In Madison, First Selectman Tom Banisch said the problem could have been much worse, but town Assessor Orietta Nucolo worked some “magic,” and fixed about 95 percent of the issue. “We had a number of cars,” Banisch said. “Originally the problem was affecting the grand list to a couple million dollars and she was able to resolve it.”

Nucolo said the town vendor gave them a listing of the cars that were listed incorrectly and they fixed the problem. She said as soon as they got the correct listings for most of the cars, they got right to work. “It was done that day,” Nucolo said. In Madison, much like in Guilford and across the state, the problems involved mostly commercial vehicles and trucks.

Branford is also dealing with the issues and town Assessor Barbara Neal said they have pinpointed the listing issue. “It’s the same statewide; the same problems exist as far as the buses,” Neal said. “Most went to the headquarters of where the business entity is.”

And some commercial vehicles are incorrect also back to top

As a result of the error, some buses or commercial vehicles were listed under their parent company’s headquarters, as opposed to where the vehicle was being used.

Neal said there are still some vehicles listed incorrectly, but they sent out the grand list with the corrections they were able to make. “I was lucky enough to get an inventory of the buses in our town,” Neal said.

The issue has caused numerous headaches for assessors thus far and although Seymour called it a system glitch, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, speaking to the New Haven Register’s editorial board, said it was the result of human error.

“There is some of that that happens every year quite frankly,” Malloy said. “If someone loads something incorrectly it comes out incorrectly.”

North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda, member of the board of directors of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, said if this issue is not resolved it could cause more headaches for drivers as well.

“There’s such an onerous process for the car owner who has to pay fines, and pay that in the other municipalities, and get reimbursed,” Freda said.